Basic etiquette to be followed by MBA aspirants in the Personal Interview round:
The Personal Interview (PI) is the last leg of the race to enter your dream B-school. The PI is usually held on the same day as the GD (group-discussion). While GD is an elimination round, it is the Personal Interview that is the actual selection round. Here you have the advantage/disadvantage of having the panel’s entire focus on you. What you say in the interview will be as important as how you say it. Your body language, mannerisms, attire, attitude will be noted & judged. It is therefore very important to know how to conduct yourself in a Personal Interview.
How to Conduct Yourself in a B-school Personal Interview: 8 Important Steps
1. Be Punctual: Make sure you are already in the waiting room, awaiting your turn to be called. Avoid making the panel wait for you.
2. When You Enter: The PI is usually conducted in a closed room. Knock lightly before you open the door, ask for permission to enter & softly close the door behind you.
3. Greetings: Your interview panel would consist of at least 3-4 people. Greet everyone with a “Good Morning/Afternoon”. Your handshake should neither be limp nor bone-crushing. Make sure you make eye-contact with everyone. Wait till you’re asked to be seated. Thank them when the offer to sit is made.
4. Dress Right: It is very important to make the right first impression. Dress like a future manager would. Your attire should exude confidence & maturity. Wear well-tailored & ironed clothes. Men should opt for conservative business attire: shirt, trousers & tie. A business suit would be ideal. Women can wear Indian or western formals. Avoid being flashy. And don’t forget to wear a smile!
5. Be Confident: From the moment you enter the room, till the second you step out after the interview, act confident. But make sure that you don’t go over-board. The interviewers may grill you to check how you handle stress. Maintain your cool throughout.
6. Mind your Body Language: One of the reasons why there is more than one interviewer on your panel is so that while one of them throws questions at you, the other can watch your body language along with what you say. Actions like fiddling with your tie, shaking your leg continuously etc. convey nervousness. Don’t adopt a languid posture while you sit. It would convey a casual attitude towards the interview. Sit upright & keep your chin up. Maintain eye-contact with all the panel members as you speak. Don’t talk to just one person throughout.
7. When You Speak: Be clear. Be concise. Be honest. Don’t talk too loudly or softly. You shouldn’t be asked to repeat what you said because you weren’t loud or clear enough. Enunciate your words clearly. Most importantly, if you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it. Your honesty would be appreciated. If you fake it, it won’t go un-noticed!
8. In the End: Thank your panel as you get up to leave. Put your chair back in position. Close the door softly behind you as you exit.
Practice these basic personal interview etiquette as often as you can. Your coaching institutes may conduct mock personal interviews. Try to follow these tips every time you take part in such mock personal interviews. You will gradually get a hang of how to conduct yourself in a B-school PI.
A PI is used by the MBA school’s interview panel to not just review your candidature closely, but to also check your inter-personal skills. It is therefore very important to conduct yourself in the right manner in a b-school personal interview!